It’s Time for Plastic-Free Packaging
Amazon has a plastic problem. In 2021, according to Oceana’s analysis, Amazon generated an estimated 709 million pounds of plastic packaging waste, a one-year increase of 18%, compared to Oceana’s 2020 estimate of 599 million pounds. The company uses so much plastic packaging that it would circle the Earth more than 800 times in the form of plastic air pillows. Oceana found, based on data from a peer-reviewed study on plastic waste pollution published in Science in 2020, that up to 26 million pounds of this plastic waste will end up in the world’s waterways and seas.
Plastic is a major source of pollution for the world’s oceans. Scientists now estimate 33 billion pounds of plastic wash into the ocean every year. Plastic packaging harms marine life and biodiversity when it enters the marine environment. Sea turtles and other animals mistake the kind of plastic used by Amazon – such as plastic bags – for food. Studies have estimated that individuals from 55% of seabird species, 70% of marine mammal species, and 100% of sea turtle species have ingested or become entangled in plastic.
What Amazon Should Do
It is clear that Amazon can solve its plastic problem. Oceana has advocated for Amazon to reduce its plastic packaging use since 2020. Since then, Amazon has made significant strides to reduce its plastic footprint, including:
- Reducing or eliminating single-use plastic packaging in Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom, among others.
- Published its plastic footprint, excluding third-party sellers, for the first time.
- Announced in its 2022 sustainability report that its overall use of single-use plastic across its global operations network (i.e., orders shipped through its fulfillment centers) declined by 11.6% from 2021 to 2022.
- Committed to “phasing out padded bags containing plastics in favor of recyclable alternatives.”
Amazon’s reduction in plastic use is good news for the oceans. But there’s still more to do. Amazon should make a global commitment to move away from single-use plastic packaging. The company should continue to publicly report on its plastic packaging footprint for all products sold through Amazon’s website and report and take responsibility for the full climate impacts of all products sold and packaging use through Amazon’s website.
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